Covid 19 – Labor inspection services controls, contacts cases and company restaurants

Following our previous information notes, please find below information relating to the instructions given by the Ministry of Labor to the labor inspection services regarding the framework of the Covid-19 controls carried out in the companies, as well as a summary of two notes published by the Ministry of Labor concerning contact cases and company restaurants.

Labor inspection: procedures for controls carried out in the companies concerning the compliance with the health protocol

On November 3, 2020, the General Directorate of Labor (DGT) issued an instruction to the labor inspection services concerning the methods of controls carried out in the companies regarding compliance with the health protocol, which will continue during this new lockdown.

The DGT has provided details on the points below:
– The risk of contamination with Covid-19 must be integrated in the evaluation of the professional risks and the resulting preventive measures must be elaborated.

– Employers can organize rapid screening tests in conjunction with their occupational health service. These tests must be paid for by the employer and can in no case be mandatory. The result must only be transmitted to the employee who has been screened.

Social dialogue must be favored: employee representatives must be involved and consulted, allowing a better appropriation by the employees of the new rules of the protocol as well as their adaptation to the situation of the company to strengthen their effectiveness. Thus, the CSE should soon be able to meet by videoconference or audioconference.

– Concerning teleworking, the labor inspectorate must verify that it is implemented as soon as the situation allows it, based on actual work situations and activities carried out.

As a reminder, the health protocol stipulates that all activities that can be carried out remotely must be teleworked by employees. The DGT indicates that the employer must determine the tasks that can be carried out remotely in the social dialogue. In particular, it must ensure the maintenance of links within the work collective and the prevention of risks related to the isolation of employees who are teleworking.

For activities that cannot be carried out remotely, the employer must organize the work in order to reduce travel between home and work and arrange the time of presence in the company by grouping together on certain days the tasks that can only be carried out on site and by spreading out the working hours.

The DGT gives examples of situations justifying a presence in the company:
Managerial positions, in order to supervise teams for activities that cannot be carried out remotely or other activities for which the employee needs to use certain tools that are not accessible remotely (particularly IT tools) ;
Employees who encounter particular difficulties or constraints “duly justified”, particularly when a manager detects a particular psychosocial risk ;
However, the organization of meetings, even managerial meetings, does not justify the presence of employees on site when it is possible to hold them by videoconference or audioconference.

Management of contact cases

The Ministry of Labor published on November 4, 2020 a note on the management of contact cases by the employer.

This notes emphasizes the points below:
– A reminder of the definition of a contact case as indicated in the company health protocol:
– A face to face situation without mask at less than one meter (hug, handshake …) ;
– More than 15 minutes, in a closed place, without a mask, while the contaminated person is                      coughing or sneezing (meal or break, conversation, vehicle travel, meeting…);
– During an exchange of material or object not disinfected;
– During acts of care or hygiene;
– When sharing the same living space.
– It is reminded that the contact case of a contact case is not itself considered as such.

– The contact case must be isolated for 7 days. If he or she cannot telework, the health insurance company will grant him or her a leave of absence without a day of deficiency.
– The employee must be tested 7 days after the last contact with the contaminated person:
If the test is negative: the employee can return to work, without needing a medical certificate, in strict compliance with the barrier measures;
If the test is positive: the employee must be isolated for an additional 7 days, while off work. If he still has a fever after these 7 days, he must continue to isolate himself until 48 hours after the end of the fever. If he has no fever, he may return to work, in strict compliance with the barrier measures, avoiding contact with vulnerable persons.
In the event of a cluster within the company, defined as an outbreak of at least 3 diagnosed cases within a period of 7 days, the employer must notify the health authorities (ARS, Health Insurance, occupational health services).
We invite you to consult the government’s note which details these measures in greater details:

Organization and operation of company restaurants
On November 4, 2020, the Ministry of Labor updated a note on the organization and operation of company restaurants.

In particular, the following instructions are highlighted:

– A distance of one meter must always be respected between employees. Thus, the space must be reorganized (queues, payment, meals, changing rooms, etc.) and the time slots adapted. A marking on the ground must be used for the direction of traffic to avoid crossings, with if possible an entrance and exit at two distinct places.

A table cannot accommodate more than 6 employees at a time, who must not be seated facing each other. A limite of 4 square meters per employee is set up.
Objects likely to be touched by several employees must be removed (salt shaker, cutlery tray, etc.). Trays must be prepared in advance, with cutlery and bread.

We invite you to consult the government’s note which details these measures in greater details.